Once you find the right business coach, you’ll feel unstoppable. You’ll see the return of investment and understand the value your coach has added to your company – seeing you achieve your goals and grow significantly. But, it could take a few rounds to find the correct match for you!

So, what do often get wrong? We’ve compiled a list of the most common mistakes and why you should break up with your business coach if you spot these errors.

#1 Fixing, not coaching

An effective coach will have valuable experience and knowledge, however, they are likely accustomed to stepping in and solving problems for people. But, this is not coaching. Rather they are advising, directing, teaching and telling you the answer. If a coach just fixes your issue but implementing a specific solution, you have gained very little from the experience. Furthermore, you cannot utilise your own unique talents, experiences and style that is so crucial to the success of your business – the right solution for you will be the one you discover with support, not when it is implemented for you.

Coaching allows for the coach and business to explore what challenges may lie ahead together. As a business owner, you’ll be asked open-ended questions and the coach will base their support on what you want to do. When you solve your own problem, you are more likely to implement the action plan.

#2 Manipulating your decisions

Business coaches for entrepreneurs may mistakenly create a kind of self-realisation torture game. If they know the answer but are trying to lead you to the same conclusion by asking a series of condescending questions you may be left feeling disrespected and as though your coach isn’t listening to you.

A business coach needs to have a flexible approach, you should jump into the unknown together – and, if your coach knows the answer, they should openly tell you rather than torture you. Ultimately, this is a more efficient use of time and will lead to a more authentic working relationship you can trust fully.

#3 Interruptions

As a business coach, it’s easy to get carried away when working with a new client – they may have a plethora of ideas they wish to discuss with you. However, it’s vital your coach fully understand your business and does not interrupt you – it’s the golden rule and a key warning sign should your coach fail to allow you to finish your thoughts.

#4 Meetings are full of distractions

Meetings require your full attention and are best held in a private, quiet spot. Of course, your first meeting with a business coach will be more conversational and therefore, the location may be more informal – perhaps a coffee house, for example. But, this should certainly not be the norm! To get the most out of your sessions, you’ll want dedicated attention which you just can’t achieve in a public space. As a business owner, you should be asking where your future meetings will take place; does your coach have an office in a building elsewhere, will they be visiting your offices?

Not only will this ensure your time is best spent, but it will also provide you with an understanding of how your coach operates and may even give you an indication of their focus levels.

#5 Stacked questioning

A stacked question is when you are asked more than one question at a time, it often feels overwhelming and often causes confusion. Whilst your coach may be trying to encourage you to answer fully, it may lead to you skim over important details, ultimately rushing the natural process. An example of stacked questioning may look like this:

“Tell me about the people involved in this issue. Also, what do you see as the main ways to resolve the issue? And, when you do resolve it, what are your next action steps?”

Coaching is all about patience, guiding you as the business owner towards the right path rather which requires time, dedication and thought. Furthermore, if these questions seem to follow a checklist type pattern, it may be a sign that there is a lack of opportunity for creativity.

#6 Hidden suggestions

Business coaches for entrepreneurs can often end up sounding like a doctor running a diagnostic! “Have you tried X? Or Y? What about trying Z?” – each may be a great idea, but this approach directs the client in a specific way and doesn’t benefit you as the business owner in the long term. Rather, the focus should be on open-ended questions that getting you thinking, for instance:

  • “What are your ideas to solve this challenge?”
  • “What can you try?”
  • “Who can help?”

#7 Recommending the latest trend

The latest trends or fads may provide short-term success, but they are certainly not the way to build the foundation for long-term growth. Some coaches, however, will jump at the opportunity to utilise the most recent advancement whether it be experimenting with AI or following the teachings of a new psychology guru.

The very best coaches will not put you into a specific box, they will ask great questions, listen, and focus on your personal situation which will ultimately see you maintain development, rather than hit a plateau after jumping on a trend.

#8 Only asking open-ended questions

Now, whilst open-ended questions are a crucial tool for business coaches, a never-ending series of these can be frustrating and make your sessions together feel more like a type of therapy – perhaps why some business coaches for entrepreneurs are merely dubbed ‘an expensive waste of time’! There is a fine balance between jumping in too quickly and suggesting solutions and not offering observations or insights at all. An effective coach will thoroughly explore your issue as a business owner, inviting you to suggest solutions from your own perspective before asking your permission to share their valuable insights.

#9 Not knowing your industry

There is certainly no expectation that a business coach need be an expert in your industry. But, if you find you are having to spend most of your time explaining the key terminology or day-to-day ongoings to your coach, you may walk away from your session feeling as though you were the one training them!

Coaching doesn’t require industry context, and your coach should understand this. The questions they have will focus on your business, and by providing an outside perspective they’ll be able to offer an alternative route. Perhaps provide some detail should it be necessary, but if you feel you are training your coach in your sessions, speak up.

#10 Failing to implement ways to measure progress

Coaching is about getting results and without measuring progress, you fail to see improvement. If your business coach fails to agree with you on a clear intent and outcome, you’ll be left struggling to understand whether you’ve achieved the desired results or not, or whether you have progressed. Any coaching, from improved confidence and new organisational structures to stronger networking relationships and increased profits, can be measured.

business coaches for entrepreneurs sat at a desk

#11 Leaving you with too much homework

As a business owner, it’s likely you are already short on time as you are preoccupied with running your company and making executive, high-pressure decisions. Especially as an entrepreneur, it can be overwhelming and you may feel pulled in every direction! Far too many coaches pile on the homework after a session, and as a result, little progress is made. Instead, a coach should ask you what insight you have had, what you intend to do now with this insight and therefore, you will have created your own ‘homework’ or rather created a new approach you actually plan on implementing.

#12 They turn the conversation away from your business

It’s an all too common tactic utilised by business coaches to fill any ‘dead air’ within your sessions together. And, whilst forming a relationship on a personal level to a degree is beneficial, it should not begin eating into your paid time. If you notice your coach running out of things to say and steering towards social topics of your weekend or family life, you may want to reconsider if this is the right coach for you.

They should be either asking you what it is you want to focus on, or they’ll arrive prepared with a set of assessments, toolkits, and methodologies to anticipate and help you through your most pressing challenges.

Business coaches for entrepreneurs: Finding the right coach for you

When searching for the right coach, it’s easy to get caught up in the process and feel you have to settle for an average service. However, taking the time to find the correct coach – or, perhaps reconsidering after hiring one if they are right for you, will ultimately serve you in the future. Be aware of the common mistakes and look out for these; business coaching is an invaluable resource for your business yet only if it is highly effective and efficient – saving you time and money.

Are you looking to speak to a coach you can trust? Book a meeting with me today and we can discuss whether business coaching could be right for you. With over 30 years, I have the expertise and experience to confidently guide you towards your goals. Contact me now at graham@grahamgarman.com or complete this contact form, and I’ll be in touch shortly.